Posts tagged ‘easy’

August 13, 2013

Fresh and Fast: Veggie Burritos

summer heat

Wow, it’s hot outside! Surviving the month of August has always felt like an endurance sport to me. When even the mosquitoes are worn out from the heat, you know summer’s getting pretty serious. The last place you want to be is stuck in front of a hot stove cooking dinner, right? Well, I have the perfect dish for you! It’s delicious, healthy, involves almost no cooking, and makes enough leftovers for several lunches—yippee! These veggie burritos have become a favorite of ours, and I bet your family will love them too.

IMG_4286

Veggie Burritos

  • 2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 c. brown rice, cooked
  • 3 green onions, white and green portions, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, or 3-5 small tomatoes, chopped
  • small bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • ½ c. shredded Pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, or nondairy cheese (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp salsa
  • 3½ Tbsp lime or lemon juice, fresh
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp cumin (optional)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • whole wheat or corn tortillas
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • white mushrooms, sliced
Looking good already!

Looking good already!

Drain and rinse the black beans, then put in a large mixing bowl. Add the brown rice to the beans. If you are really pinched for time and don’t have a batch of rice on hand, just use a package of frozen brown rice and heat it up—a total lifesaver! Add the green onions, tomato, cilantro, shredded cheese, and salsa to the rice and bean mixture and stir.

Fresh and light

Fresh summer veggies over rice and beans

In a separate bowl, combine 3 Tbsp lime or lemon juice, minced garlic, cumin, crushed red pepper, sea salt, and black pepper. Using a small whisk or a fork, stir the canola oil in to the lime dressing. Then pour the finished dressing over the rice and bean mixture, stirring thoroughly. Tasty trick: Drizzle the remaining ½ Tbsp lime or lemon juice over the sliced avocado, and then add a bit of sea salt. Set aside.

Rice and bean mixture--ready to go

Rice and bean mixture–ready to go

If you like, warm the tortilla, and then spread 2-3 Tbsp of the rice and bean mixture down the middle of the tortilla. Arrange the avocado slices along the mixture, then add the slices of mushroom. If you like (and I always like), drizzle some extra salsa and cheese across the top before serving. If you make this dish for dinner, you will have even tastier leftovers for several days that make lunch prep a total snap!

Other Yummy Additions

When it comes to adding veggies and fruit to jazz up the flavor, the sky’s the limit. Be sure to add the extra bits at the very end or after heating up the rice and beans for leftovers. That way, the additions keep their cool sweetness and crunch. Here are some great ideas:

  • Shredded carrots
  • Matchstick-sliced radishes, zucchini, squash, jicama, or cucumber
  • Sliced mango
  • Mango salsa (yum!)
  • Sprouts
  • Baby spinach leaves or other raw greens

Mmmm . . . I’m hungry already. Enjoy and stay cool!

XO, Brooke

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June 17, 2013

The Simple Life

fab

Hi, Friends! Do you ever have those moments where everything is working really well in your life? When events are spinning themselves out so smoothly that you swear (sassily and a bit smugly) that you really can do it all? I feel this way one day maybe every other week, if I’m lucky! Mostly I feel like the pieces of my world are like errant socks on laundry day—I reach down to grab a pile of dirty clothes to take to the washer, trying to gather all the whites, say, at one time. It’s a weird, OCD-ish game I play with myself, but if I manage to grab all the clothes at once without dropping any bits on the journey across the house, I win! Usually I end up dropping a sock or two, so then I lean down to grab the escaping footwear and more socks (unmatched, of course) jump out, along with a few panties. Aaaaack!

normal washing

We live in a busy, fast-moving world, and we are juggling a ton of things. Our days are filled to bursting, and sometimes just glancing at my calendar the night before makes me so anxious and panicked that I just wait until I’m back at the starting block the next morning, when I’m more mentally stable and armed with caffeine. Then the day starts, and GO, GO, GO! Things are moving along nicely, and then you remember you were supposed to call so-and-so. Then you make the call, and forget to allow for construction on your way to work. You miss your turn, and now you’re about to be late for a meeting. Lunch comes along and you haven’t packed a good lunch because you meant to go to the grocery store last night after leaving the gym and you just forgot. And so it goes. Before long, your equilibrium is off kilter and things snowball from there. If I find myself in a cluster like this late at night or for several days in a row, I quickly reach the end of my rope—tearful and exhausted, unable to cope with the smallest setbacks.

busy mind

In trying to help myself find my way back to sanity during these times, I’ve come up with a little TLC checklist—I call it my Love List. I use it to quickly check to see if I’ve taken care of myself well enough and to figure out where I’ve veered off course.

Love List

1. Nutrition: Have I eaten well enough today? Have I had healthy meals at the appropriate times? Did I get my snacks in? How do I feel right now? Have I eaten enough healthy food to get me through all my activities?

2. Exercise: Have I moved enough today? Have I enjoyed living in my body today? How does it feel? Have I challenged it enough? Does it need rest and care instead of unrelenting activity? Do I feel strong?

3. Sleep: Did I get enough sleep last night? How did I feel this morning? Did I feel rested or was I dragging? Am I feeling good now, or am I in a fog?

4. Water: How much water have I had so far? What’s my goal? How do I feel? Would having more water help me feel better right now?

5. Care of the Soul: Have I prayed today? Have I had enough uninterrupted time to think or dream? Have I done at least one thing that has nurtured my soul? What do I long to do? What would make me happy?

ok

The answers to these questions provide clues to what’s out of whack in my life. They also give me a structure to do one thing at a time to heal my crazy ways. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t go step by step, I soon get lost in the rat’s nest of mental and psychological chatter in my mind. By reviewing my Love List, I can breathe easier and get my grip back. Maybe this list (or your own special creation) will come in handy when you find yourself adrift.

Have a wonderful and simple week,

Brooke

May 27, 2013

Green Energy—Yum!

green scene

Happy Memorial Day, Friends! It’s Brooke here with a few questions for you: Do ever have those days (or weeks) that you feel tired and sluggish, even after getting a good night’s sleep? Do you wish you had more pep in your step after lunch?  No, the solution’s not caffeine, although it does make my world go ‘round. Answer: Time to load up on the veggies and fruit! There are lots of ways to add green goodness to your life—you can grab some produce and munch away, create some amazing salads, throw some greens into your cooked dishes, or juice that precious goodness into a glass. But one of my favorite ways to enjoy the bounty of the earth is to make green smoothies.

The USDA’s recommended daily amount varies for each person according to caloric intake, metabolism, and physiology, but a good standard for someone consuming 2,000 calories a day would be at the very least 2-3 servings of vegetables (more if possible!) and about 1.5-2 servings of fruit per day. The average American gets only 1.5-3 servings of veggies and fruit—total!—a day.

pretty veggies

When you realize all of the amazing ways that fruits and vegetables can help you live a healthier, longer, more vibrant life, you will run—not walk—to your nearest grocery store or farmer’s market. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and energy from the sun. Studies have repeatedly shown that a healthy diet low in saturated fat, high in whole grains, lean proteins, veggies, and fruit reduces the risk of most chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and so on. Consuming the abundant vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and fruit helps improve our mood; boost energy; enhance immune function; maintain efficient digestion; impart radiant skin and hair; and reduce risk of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases. This is great news!

I love green smoothies for several reasons:

1) They appeal to my lazy side—with just a little prep work, I can throw everything into my blender and within 30 seconds, I have a pitcher full of happiness that supplies about 3 or 4 glasses throughout the day.

2) They are fun to drink—as I live my fit life, salads make up a good portion of my diet. But sometimes I get tired of dealing with all the fixings (my salads are always full of crunchy, tasty veggies, nuts, and fruit) and coming up with new ideas all the time. Smoothies are a nice change of pace.

3) They make me feel good—this can also be said of dark, green leafy salads as well as freshly juiced produce. I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but when I first cleaned up my eating, this fresh energy from the abundance of raw vegetables was a new experience. I noticed this after eating a lunch of quinoa, black beans, avocado, and then a big salad (spinach, chard, arugula, etc. plus celery, carrots, green onions, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, and almonds). I didn’t get the charge of caffeinated energy I knew so well, but my insides felt so light and clean, not heavy and bogged down.

heart veggies distressed

Digestion is the most energy-consuming function that the body carries out. That’s why you are so sleepy after stuffing yourself on a large meal—your body uses much of its available fuel to process what you just ate. Let me put it this way: meat can take 2-3 days to completely pass through your system (yikes!), a regular full meal can take 6-8 hours to digest, and most fruits and vegetables are out of your system in 2-3 hours. By consuming green salads or (especially) smoothies and juices, you are able to bypass much of this effort because the produce is mechanically broken down into smaller, more bioavailable parts. Almost immediately, your body begins to utilize the vitamins and minerals to repair and renew your body. This is why you feel so much better and full of energy within a day or two of adding dark green salads, juices, and smoothies to your menu.

cute vegetables

Here’s one of my favorite recipes. The fun part about smoothies is that the sky’s the limit on what ingredients you decide to use. A good rule of thumb when you are starting out is 1:1—1 green vegetable to 1 fruit. Ideally, you want to use more veggies than fruit. Green vegetables are virtually dripping with nutrients that you need for a radiant glow and optimum health. Also, fruit does contain sugar, even though it’s natural—so just be mindful of those luscious gems, especially if you are tightening up your sexy body. You’ll see, however, in my recipe below that I used more fruits than vegetables, mainly because I was out of more vegetables and my peaches were very ripe and had to go!

Sweet Greens

Note: Use organic produce when possible.

 smoothie ingredients_corrected

  • 2 c. spinach, raw
  • 1.5 c. water
  • 3-4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 peaches, small
  • 1 pear
  • mint, small handful
  • 1 banana (optional)

Add spinach and water to the blender and blend on medium speed. Add celery in handfuls as it is incorporated with the spinach and water, increasing speed to high. Add peaches, pear, mint, and banana. Add some ice to add thickness if you like. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Makes 4-5 10-oz. glasses

Here’s to your brighter, healthier day—drink up!

Brooke

green smoothie_corrected

Lovely and tasty!

 

December 21, 2012

Spicy Lemon Chick’n Pasta

This is Brooke here, and I’m excited to share one of my favorite recipes with you. Spicy Lemon Chick’n Pasta is an elegant entrée that you and your family (or guests) will love. It’s become a staple in my house mainly because it’s super simple and because the ingredients are usually always around my kitchen. True, it is a meatless dish (you can tell by the apparently misspelled “chick’n”), but because I use a vegetarian meat substitute, even your most adamant carnivores will be happy. Proof: My husband, John (the non-vegetarian), loves it! Ok, here’s what you need:

  • 1-1½ c. cooked Barilla PLUS® Multigrain Pasta (I like farfalle, or bowtie shape—makes me happy somehow)
  • 3-4 Morningstar Farms® Buffalo Wing chick’n nuggets or 1 Quorn™ chick’n cutlet
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Good dash of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Good dash or two of red pepper flakes
  • A few curls of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Serves 1—adjust quantities for more servings

Simple Ingredients + 10 Minutes = Magic!

Simple Ingredients + 10 Minutes = Magic!

A Word About Some Special Ingredients

  • Barilla PLUS Multigrain Pasta: This pasta is the bomb! It’s multigrain and packed with protein and omega-3’s. Actually, 1 uncooked cup of this pasta supplies 17g of protein (!), 28% of the recommended daily value of ALA-omega-3 (plant-based fatty acid), and 7g of fiber. Plus, it tastes amazing, and if you fix the whole box, you can have leftovers for days. This is great news for us busy people!
  • Chick’n: Depending on my mood, I use either Morningstar Farms Buffalo Wings or Quorn Chick’n Cutlets. The Quorn cutlets are delicious and are extremely similar to regular chicken breasts—they make a fabulous substitute in chicken salad and other dishes. I usually lean toward hot and spicy, so I used the Morningstar Buffalo Wings. These sassy little bites bring a whole other dimension to the dish. Yum!

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. For al dente, be sure to remove from heat and rinse/strain after cooking for 10 minutes. Cook chick’n selection according to package directions. In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes together with a whisk or fork. Get out a pretty pasta bowl, add your cooked pasta and your cooked chick’n, then pour olive oil/lemon mixture over everything, and stir well. If you like, you can add some Parmesan curls or grated Parm. Enjoy and wait for the compliments!

Pretty Pasta

Pretty Pasta

Have a great weekend, and stay warm and toasty!

~Brooke